Peggy Sue, Peggy Sue…Pretty Pretty Pretty Pretty Peggy Sue…

old peg bucketIt’s been bugging me for some time now that my peg bucket for hanging out the washing is just all kinds of wrong.
It’s a pretty enough oval tin with a hook, which, at the time of buying I thought was pretty and cute. However, over the years I have come to realise it is not really practical for the job in hand.

For starters you can’t keep it attached to your person, so you have to keep hanging it on the line and then as you peg more and more clothes up, it gets buried and lost and you have to dive under layers of clothes to retrieve it.

I have dropped it more times than I would like to admit, spilling pegs all over the grass.

It is not big enough for all the pegs I have, so I have to peg some pegs all the way around the edge which both uses up some pegs and makes the bucket taller to house more pegs inside, but it takes longer then when you unpeg your washing to clip them all back on again.

It rusts if you leave it out in the rain.

It hurts when it falls off and lands on your foot.

In short… it is no good.

I started thinking that if I could create some sort of bag that had a shoulder strap then I could put it on and have the pegs with me wherever I went around the washing line and not lose them. They would be close at hand and I could pull them out like a revolver from a holster to peg up the washing, quick and easy. Quick and easy too, to put them away again in the midst of a rain storm when you rush out to get your washing in.

So I started looking at tote bag patterns and thinking about how I could make one with some kind of hook on it too, so that I could hang it on the washing line while the washing was out.

Then I stumbled upon this lovely pattern for peg bags made with a child’s coathanger from Just Jude Designs I love the hole for putting pegs in and out and love love loved the applique washing line.

I started wondering if I could adapt this pattern to include a shoulder strap? How hard can it be, I thought to myself…

So I bought the pattern and yesterday spent a very merry couple of hours making up the peg bag. So proud was I at the end when it looked pretty much as it ought, much better and neater even than I had imagined possible.

My husband came home from work and I showed him my bag and said look look, see how beautiful it is… look what I have achieved today!

lovely new peg bag

And he said… “That’s very nice dear, where is the shoulder strap?”
Ah… oh yes… that was sort of the whole point wasn’t it… I wanted to add a shoulder strap so that I could have it with me as I peg out the washing and pull out pegs revolver style… remember?
So I leave it for a day, and today I have another look, pull it all inside out again and hum and haw about whether or not I can face unpicking my beautiful neat stitching to add in a strap…
I did in the end, and of course it got twisted and some of the seam ended up poking through as well and it is not quite perfect but… I do now have what I set out to do – a lovely new peg bag complete with shoulder strap!
peg bag WITH strap
Now I just need to go do some washing…



Land Ahoy Shipmates!

What’s a Pirate’s favourite shop to shop at?


That’s my son’s favourite joke at the moment, or it’s the only one he can remember. But it works well for a pirate mad six year old and he gets a few giggles from it, which is more than can be said for some of his made up jokes…

pirate applique curtain
We recently decided to build him a new bed in his room as he had outgrown his Ikea toddler bed, and as his room was so small, we thought a mid-sleeper might offer him best use of space. So my clever hubbie set to while we went swanning off to visit my parents for a few days over the holidays. When we returned he had a new bed! Ta da! But… he needed some sort of curtain to make the bottom half into a den. This is where I come in…

Now, I thought to myself, what sort of curtain would a pirate crazy little boy like in his room? I know… an applique pirate ship – I’m sure I can do that… how hard can it be? Says me… never having appliqued anything in my life before.

So I toddle down to Hobby Craft and buy a shed load of felt, I google how to make tab tops and I find a old cot sheet that happens to be pretty much the perfect size for the gap we need to cover and then I began.

And I made this little fella…

applique pirate

So proud was I to have made him, I decided to make more, and you know what? I really really enjoyed it. Who knew applique could be such fun? And felt… what a marvel – it doesn’t fray so you don’t need to worry about sewing some fancy zig zag stitch all the way around. And it is so easy to cut and shape.

I bought some leather looky likey material too for the top edge of the ship – which also does not fray – hurrah!

And some hessian for the ship – which frays like mad… (not so hurrah).

Had great fun buying bits and bobs to make it more textured, like the feather for the parrot’s tale and the buttons for the pirates coats, and the polystyrene rings for the portholes.

I learnt a lot making it. And had a lot of fun. And when Louis grows out of Pirates, we can make a new one with a different theme. I hope he wants space or something inspiring, am already thinking up how I could applique spaceships and stars…  might be a little tricky if he gets heavily into tupperware or stamp collecting!

Here is the finished article… my son is delighted… at last something for him – not just girls dresses for his big sister… ha ha… or should I say….oooo arrr!

pirates pirates galore!

more pirates

I Wish Tamara Was My Mummy…

IMG_2434Although this blog is primarily about the skills I hope to pick up since my redundancy, I think it is only fair to start from the beginning, my first ‘how hard can it be’ moment.

There I was innocently watching ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’ last year with my daughter Eloise, when she gave a big sigh and said: “I wish Tamara was my mummy and that man was my daddy, then I would have lots of lovely clothes to wear.”

The sound of the gauntlet crashing down was still ringing in my ears as I was madly googling ‘sewing classes near Bishop’s Stortford’ the next day.

Now I think it is only fair to say at this moment that up until that point, my sewing skills only extended as far as sewing on a stray button or a brownie badge, possibly taking up a hem, although I had even discovered wunderweb to avoid the horrors of that particular sewing task.

My mum often reminds me of my first sewing project as a child, when after hurtling down the driveway with my brothers on the back of our 6 wheeler scrambler toy, I tore my pleated woollen skirt – and after much shouting from my mother, I flew upstairs in a rage – determined to prove this was no biggie and fix it myself. Well… the results were not very impressive and my relationship with sewing took a rather sour turn after that.

Aside from making a fried egg bean bag at school, I was never taught to use a sewing machine, and they terrified me. I didn’t understand them, how on earth can a single needle going up and down possibly produce a row of neat stitches. And from what I had seen, you spend the far more of your time untangling and unpicking than you do sewing.

So sewing and I had parted company at an early age.

Until now, until my own flesh and blood decided that no matter how many things I did for her, it was a mother that could SEW that was what she wanted. And me, being of quite stubborn stock, thought well fine… in that case… I shall learn to sew.

How hard can it be?

Lucky for me, I stumbled upon Rebecca Woollard’s wonderful sewing school:  and it wasn’t very far away and I could do a one day course on dress-making on my day off.

Arriving at her shop on that Friday morning with my daughter’s £39 John Lewis sewing machine I was surprised to find the whole experience a wonderful retreat of peace and calm and creativity. I made a blouse. Me… a whole blouse! With princess lines and buttonholes and set in sleeves… oh brave new world…

Since then, I have made 4 summer dresses for my daughter, I have altered and added borders to curtains, made an applique pirate curtain for my son’s mid-sleeper bed. A picture of a tree and some greetings cards.


Sewing – I love you! All is forgiven. Now, armed with my new best friend – a Janome electronic sewing machine, I am venturing out into the unknown… oh happy days…